"As we advance in the religious life and faith, we shalL run the way of god's commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love" (regula Benedicti, Prol 49).

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Benedictine Spirituality

 

Above all, Benedictine life is aimed at seeking God. The information and guidance written in the Rule is intended to facilitate this holy purpose, and everything else in life is subordinate to attaining this goal. Prayer makes one aware of God’s presence in time and in place, and gives openness to the wondrous mystery of God’s will. Both the sorrow and joy of life are given voice in a nun’s prayer and praise. The nun’s day also includes time for meditative holy reading, the message of God as conveyed in the Scripture and interpreted by the Church.
The first command of St. Benedict at the very beginning of the Rule is this: "Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart." Before we can listen, the spirit and practice of silence is essential. Only one who has learned how to be silent will be able to hear the cry of others, as well as the call of God.

Benedictines pursue personal holiness as members of a community. The support of a group of like-minded individuals helps each nun as she makes her way to God. The community members provide each other with guidance, advice, correction, fraternal love, and frequent opportunities to exercise charity.

A Benedictine nun receives all that is necessary for material and spiritual sustenance from God, through the community. Therefore, she can avoid the temptation of accumulating possessions and making them the center of her existence. She seeks to own nothing, and to let nothing own her. Trusting that what she needs will be provided, she is free to focus her attention on that which truly matters.

Aware that internal weakness and external temptation pose constant challenges to spiritual growth, a Benedictine nun is committed to reject complacency and to be always open to the voice of God, so that the kingdom of God might be established within her.

 

A Benedictine nun makes a vow to spend the remainder of her life in the community of her profession. Making such a vow forces a person to confront problems without the possibility of escape and evasion, and enforces the family-oriented characteristics of a monastery, where nuns spend decades together on their journey to God. Each benefits along the way by the diverse gifts all have to offer.

The early Church considered nuns to be the successors to the prophets of the Old Testament. Every genuine prophet is a witness for God, and the nun’s separation from worldly things is in essence a public statement that God’s kingdom is to be valued above all else. A Benedictine nun’s life should be a silent but eloquent witness to the primacy of God, which is attained when the materialistic aspects of existence are set aside.


A Benedictine nun forgoes marriage as a sign of her total dedication to God and His Kingdom. Instead of promising herself to another person, she promises celibacy, a visible sign of the spiritual pilgrimage she has chosen. Nuns are committed to chastity, honesty in relationships with others, never allowing momentary impulses to take the place of permanent commitment. The nun’s only permanent commitment is to a religious fellowship with God, which frees her for service to those around her.
The essence of St. Benedict’s teaching is that a nun must, like Christ, lay aside her own will in order to be free to do the will of God. In this context, one can see the vow of obedience as freedom, not enslavement. Obedience gives freedom from the enslavement of sin and self-will in order to allow growth in spiritual maturity as sons of God.
With morality, as with diet, bad habits lead to a weighing down of the person that hampers the full and proper enjoyment of life. A Benedictine nun seeks to prepare herself for her spiritual quest by giving up bad things, and even good things if they are obstacles to attaining God.
Any type of work compatible with the structure of the monastic life described by St. Benedict is suitable for a nun, and she can undertake whatever activity she is assigned with joy and a clear conscience. In a community founded on the Rule’s balanced approach to work, each nun is given the opportunity to use her talents within the larger framework of a life of prayer.

 

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